The Prohibitionist Curse

In "The Prohibitionist Curse" (March), Matt Welch mentions the "resource curse" that seems to afflict nations "blessed" with abundant resources. This has in the past also been referred to as the "oil curse" since it seems to afflict oil-rich nations in particular.

There is no mystery here. Anyone driving through the shale-gas region of Western Pennsylvania will see the roads lined with billboards bearing the message: "Sell us the rights to the gas under your land." In America, if you find oil or gas under your land, you get rich. Elsewhere in the world, if you find oil or gas under your land, you are dispossessed without compensation, and the money goes to the government.

Mexico is a prize example. Under the Mexican constitution, oil belongs to "the people"-a socialist code word for the government. You and your ancestors may have lived on and farmed a patch of ground for generations, but if oil is found under that land, it's a disaster for you. The real root of the "resource curse" is the lack of property rights.

Joseph P. Martino

Sidney, OH

Addicted to Brain Scans

Stanton Peele's "Addicted to Brain Scans" (March) didn't quite go far enough, at least for someone like me. I have always been skeptical of the concept of sex addiction, at least as defined by the veritable guru of the condition, Pat Carnes. As he and his disciples see it, anyone not in a conventional monogamous relationship, particularly if he is also a fan of pornography and other forms of adult entertainment such as strip clubs, is a sex addict.

This plays into the hands of the religious right and other nanny statists from both sides of the political spectrum. Furthermore, it is an effective means of feeding the therapy industry, especially the nation's myriad 12-step programs. Finally, it's both a convenient way to label people and an excuse for avoiding responsibility for thoughtless and impulsive actions.

Nicholas A. Tsambassis

Clarksville, TN

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"Moral hazard, here we come! The biggest issue I have with the guaranteed income is that it further erodes what little incentive I would have to work my way into a better life. It's the same gristly nag I have with food stamps, the ACA [Affordable Care Act], and a myriad of other means-tested programs. They all punish you for trying to get off the teat."

-reason.com commenter "waffles" in response to "Time for a Guaranteed Income" (March)

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